Escape Velocity and the Pacing of Arms
Between Frank Zappa and Varése, nothing’s left
to listen to but the static between stars,
the balconic sweep dim constellations trace
outside my window, the popping vinyl grooves
that force the needle forward, the arm and lever
stuck in their attraction toward the center
to anticipate a gentle readjustment of the body
where each track organizes noise as living matter,
so I delay my hand over the warping up and down and up of side B,
Mothers of Invention and the stratospheric sound
revolving more around the axis in a single cycle
than either of my hands or eyes or any of my body
has ever circled a boundless earth that overdubs
a soft arithmetic of still so far to go:
from down here at this velocity, the body can only escape
in the spaces, the steady inward pacing of a needle
defiant in its scratching toward the edge.
Omar’s Ant Piles
Dollar whiskey clearance night at the Corner Liquor and Omar won’t let me leave without spending an extra dollar on an extra bottle to wash the taste of his sales pitch out of my ears while still appreciating his leg muscles he’s washed six times since yesterday (or was it seven since the last time he told a customer this story?) as if scouring ant bites off his skin shows evidence of proper fatherhood, because goddamit he came through for both his kids this time: destroyed a colony growing underneath their above-ground swimming pool, which also means he finally had to man up and fix his busted lawnmower, even kept the motor running long enough to chop the top layer of the ant pile to sandy pulp (no chemicals, just cut and smash) all those tiny black legs scrambling for shelter toward his cut off shorts, his bare veins stained with tiny red scabs he feels the need to share with any customer who has the nerve to think they’re getting out of here with just a dollar bottle. Not tonight. One dollar whiskey night needs two dollar stories, so I have to run back to the car for some extra change to round out that extra bottle so he can finish showing off the other leg to tell me how killing ants on your day off can fully make a man.
Moeller Stroke Shuffle
From his balcony, my neighbor tells me how
at work he graffitis petitions for two-ply toilet paper
on bathroom stall doors. He enjoys these small authorities, and he says
he spends majorities of mornings leaning on cold tile while his pen
keeps time on the newspaper across his lap, tapping rhythms
over stock market quotes he could never understand.
As when I first moved in, past-due notices linger on his door,
and he props his windows open so the neighbors can enjoy
his trademark laugh. I overhear him praising Dolly Parton
as she compares her ample blessings to a giraffe with a sore throat
anytime she gets a chest cold. But good old Johnny Carson
interrupts her to insist his show has guidelines not to ask
for proof of authenticity, though he would still give
a whole year’s pay to peek underneath her blouse.
The Moeller Stroke is named for Sanford A. Moeller after his observations of drummers who fought in the American Civil War. A “whipping” motion lets gravity do most of the work, allowing the drummer to stay relaxed while still maintaining control, although no official consensus has been reached as to whether or not this technique should incorporate the rebound of each beat.
Andrew Hincapie is an MFA candidate at Texas State University in San Marcos where he teaches undergraduate writing and works as co-editor of Front Porch Literary Journal. His work can be found online at frontporchjournal.com.